Two TPBs that’re execution dependent: Cemetery Beach, by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell.
First up: Cemetery Beach.
Cemetery Beach is pretty straight forward: It’s a seven issue long chase comic. Cemetery Beach won’t usurp Planetary or The Authority in anyone’s best of Ellis list, but that’s not what it’s designed to do. Cemetery Beach is designed to make you go “oooooh, that’s gonna blow up good”. Howard draws increasingly preposterous explosions, and Ellis gives him more wacky things to draw just before they catch fire.
While reading, I didn’t feel like seven issues was too long. It didn’t drag at any point. Here’s the plot: Two prisoners of torture (one a violent dissident, the other an off-world interloper) break out of prison and make a run for the coast. Really. That’s it. There’s a twist at the end, but it doesn’t meaningfully change the plot. At no point will anyone declare Cemetery Beach The Most Important Comic Of 2019 unless they’re taking the piss. The good guys and bad guys are clearly delineated. The good guys are Grace and Mike, the bad guys are just about everyone else.
Looking back on Cemetery Beach, I wonder if Ellis had a little fun and made the planet Grace and Mike try to escape from Space Australia.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell.
The functional opposite of Cemetery Beach in terms of tone. In high school, a young woman (Frederica) discovers she’s in love with a person that’s terrible for her. It’s up to Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell to make that pitch sing and they do. If you’ve ever been in love with a person who was awful to you, this’ll resonate strongly. If you’re currently going through it, I cannot imagine how seen you’ll feel.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is dramatic in the way that any story involving teens can be and immediate in the way that people who know what they’re doing execute a concept well. I’m stunned by some of the pages in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, and Valero-O’Connell’s use of pink (the work’s only color) heightens the drama. I don’t want more colors, and that’s the highest praise I can think of.
There’s a couple moments for older readers (I can’t imagine many teenagers going “oh, Stranger In A Strange Land means sex is probably occurring in the background”), but the book is proudly about and for kids coming of age. Laura Dean… is twice as long as Cemetery Beach, and like that collection, I didn’t feel any of Laura Dean… dragging.